There’s no denying the mass resurgence of vinyl in recent years, and from a sales perspective, the signs are everywhere: the year-on-year success of the annual Record Store Day, LP figures in Australia doubled in 2013 while Stateside, the US is enjoying a 40% increase on vinyl sales from this time last year, reaching a record 6.1 million units.
Then there’s the unofficial poster boy for the vintage format, Jack White, whose trick-laden Lazaretto ‘Ultra LP‘ is not only the best selling slice o’ wax in 2014 but smashed a 20 year old record for the biggest first-week vinyl sales.
But where is all this vinyl being produced? A huge number of vinyl record producers shut down in the 90s when vinyl fell out of popularity. Now those that managed the keep operating are struggling to keep up with demand.
Today, GZ Media is the world’s biggest vinyl record producer. It has more than 1,400 employees who in 2013 pressed more than 10.5 million records. In fact, in February this year they managed to press an incredible 42,000 vinyl records in a single day.
Gramofonove Zavody (Gramophone Record) Lodenice as the company was originally known, was founded in 1948 in Czechoslovakia, while the country was still under the thumb of the USSR. It’s first pressed record didn’t leave the factory floor until 1951, but since then it’s been pumping out records first for countries throughout the Eastern Bloc, and now for the rest of the world now demand has skyrocketed.
“GZ Media is manufacturing vinyl records since 1951 and we have never stopped manufacturing,” says general manager Michal Sterba. Although he does admit that they “were very close in the early 90s when the demand for vinyl records was close to zero.”
Vinyl production at GZ Media has been increasing by 40% a year and the expansion shows no sign of abating with the factory handling the production of acts the likes of The Beatles, Abba, David Bowie, and The Rolling Stones.
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You can go on a photo tour of the factory below. See Mashable for more photos.
Employee Sarka Pospisilova works at an engraving machine at the Metal Work Department of the GZ Media vinyl record factory in Lodenice, Czech Republic. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Iva Mangova works at the creation process department of the GZ Media vinyl record factory in Lodenice, Czech Republic. GZ handles the creation of all forms of records, from standard black through heart-shaped translucent red. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Anton Minik poses for a photograph while recycling vinyl records. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Separating the master record from a matrix copy after the galvanization process is complete. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Frantisek Pospisil holds a master record and a matrix copy. The matrix copy is used to create a metal record called ‘the mother,’ which is then used to create a metal negative known as ‘the stamper.’ Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
An emloyee performs an operation in electroforming baths at the Direct Metal Mastering Department of the GZ Media vinyl record factory. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Matej Ciz works at the new and old metal parts archive area. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Eva Bartunkova uses headphones as she controls the sound quality of vinyl records at the GZ Media vinyl record factory. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Matej Ciz works in the metal work department. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER
Vaclava Drapalikova uses ‘the stamper’ to create the grooves in a record. The manual double-press machine uses steam to soften the vinyl allowing the grooves to form. Afterward, the record will be exposed to cold water to harden the vinyl. Photo: EPA/FILIP SINGER